Authentic Indian Prawn Masala Recipe

Indian prawn masala recipe

The Spruce

  • Total: 40 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
361 Calories
20g Fat
16g Carbs
31g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 361
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 26%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Cholesterol 241mg 80%
Sodium 796mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Protein 31g
Calcium 193mg 15%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Prawn masala is simple yet delicious and, like many Indian dishes, it is packed with flavor. The recipe is quite easy and most of the ingredients are those great spices we expect in Indian cuisine, so don't let the list scare you off.

The recipe involves two steps: a marinade and a masala gravy. The nice thing is that the prawns are marinated only as long as it takes to make the gravy, so the recipe doesn't take much time at all.


  • 17 ounces large prawns (or shrimp; raw, peeled, deveined, and washed)
  • For the Marinade
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (vegetable, canola, or sunflower)
  • For the Gravy
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
  • 1 dash salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup water (boiling)
  • Garnish: coriander (chopped)

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this prawn masala dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Marinate the Prawns

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for marinate
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  2. In a blender, combine all of the marinade ingredients and grind until it's a smooth paste.

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  3. In a large, non-metallic bowl, place the prawns and pour the marinade over them. Mix to coat all the prawns well.

    Marinate prawns
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  4. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator to marinate while you make the gravy.

Prepare the Masala Gravy

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for curry
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  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 4 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat.

    Heat pan
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  3. When the cooking oil is hot, add the chopped onion. Sauté until the onions begin to turn a pale golden brown color.

    Add onions
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  4. Add the garlic and ginger pastes and sauté for 1 minute.

    Add garlic
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  5. Add the tomatoes, all the powdered spices, and salt to taste. Mix well.

    Add tomatoes
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  6. Sauté the masala (onion-tomato-spice mixture) until the oil begins to separate from it. This can take up to 10 minutes. 

    Saute masala
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  7. When the masala begins to look ready, turn off the heat.

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  8. Put the prepared masala into the food processor and grind into a smooth paste (do not add water). Remove and place in a separate container.

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Finish the Dish

  1. Using the same frying pan as before, turn the heat on medium.

    Empty frying pan
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  2. Once it is hot, add the prawns and marinade and sauté until the prawns just begin to turn opaque.

    Add prawns
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  3. Add the prepared masala and 1/4 cup boiling water and stir well.

    Add masala
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  4. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes and turn off the heat.

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  5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve with chapatis (Indian flatbread) or plain or jeera (cumin) rice, and kachumber salad.

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  6. Enjoy!

    Indian prawn masala
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  • The trick is to cook the prawns quickly or they will get rubbery and chewy.

Recipe Variation

  • If you don't have prawns or shrimp, you can make this with skinless, boneless chicken pieces and it is just as delicious.